Syria to Retake Northern Town After Al-Qaeda Withdraws

Al-Qaeda denies ceding the town, says fighting will continue

The Syrian military appears set to retake the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province on Wednesday, after al-Qaeda’s forces were reported to have withdrawn from the area in recent fighting.

The town is important because it’s on a main highway. Turkey was sending a military convoy into the town earlier this week, though the convoy was hit in a Syrian airstrike. Al-Qaeda, however, denies they’re abandoning the town.

Though all indications are that there isn’t substantial fighting and they are moving their forces back, al-Qaeda says now that they still are holding some parts of the town, and that they intend that fighting should continue.

Al-Qaeda has been losing ground in Idlib since the ceasefire collapsed last week. Syria was willing to allow the ceasefire to hold if al-Qaeda would withdraw from the buffer zone, but they ruled out doing so.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.